Tony Romo slams National Football League’s casino puritanism

nfl-no-fun-league-casinosThe National Football League seems hell-bent on living up to its unofficial ‘No Fun League” nickname.

On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went on ESPN to protest the NFL’s forced cancellation of the National Fantasy Football Convention at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Romo, who was the headline attraction among multiple NFL players scheduled to attend the event, expressed regret at the league having seen fit to ‘remind’ the NFL Players Association of the league’s intermittently enforced policy against association of its brand with casinos.

Romo complained that the NFL hadn’t bothered to reach out to either the NFFC’s organizers or himself and suggested that the way it was handled “does make it sound sometimes like it’s an issue about money, which is disappointing.” Romo accused the NFL of “almost scaring” the players scheduled to attend the NFFC, which to Romo “just seems silly” and “makes you think it was just about money.”

Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese joined in the skewering, saying the NFL “has a credibility gap on this issue the size of the Grand Canyon.” Reese noted the number of NFL teams that had inked partnerships with daily fantasy sports operators “but a convention in Las Vegas is a bridge too far? It’s about time the NFL comes down from its ivory tower.”

The NFFC isn’t the only event to suffer at the hands of the NFL’s anti-casino stance. On Tuesday, TMZ reported that several Miami Dolphins players had pulled out of a poker tournament at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek in Florida. Organizer Andy Slater said the players scheduled to attend Tuesday’s event had told him “they were advised they couldn’t play.”

Also on Tuesday, ESPN reported that the NFL was training its sights on the Fantasy Sports Combine, which is scheduled for July 17 at Wynn Las Vegas and promises attendance by several NFL players, including New York Jets wideout Brandon Marshall. Several NFL’ers are also scheduled to attend the Strikes for Kids charity bowling event at Sands’ Palazzo property on July 12.

Officially, the NFL bars players and personnel from engaging in “promotional activities or other appearances at or in connection with events that are held at or sponsored by casinos.” Romo, his fellow players and event organizers would have all been aware of this stance, so their protestations do seem a bit disingenuous.

But the NFL’s stance isn’t always as clear as it claims. Just last month, the Detroit Lions inked a deal with the MGM Grand Detroit casino to create a special fan zone within Ford Field. One of the key selling points for the new MGM Grand Detroit Tunnel Club – accessible only via a season ticket package costing $19k for two seats – is the promise of increased access to NFL players during games.

Bottom line, the NFL increasingly appears out of step with modern attitudes toward casinos and betting in general, so maybe No Foresight League would be more appropriate.